Both diagnostic and therapeutic goals are obtained with joint injections. A joint injection for a diagnostic purpose will help identify the problem within the joint. Once the joint is identified as the source of the problem, a therapeutic goal can include eliminating pain, altering the disease process, or chondroprotection. Treating a joint is not always for arthritis. Joint treatment can reduce inflammation, alter mechanical stress, change the synovial fluid quality, prevent cartilage breakdown, or slow degenerative changes.
A variety of substances can be injected into the joint once the joint is properly cleaned with an antiseptic soap (chlorhexidine) and alcohol. Veterinarians can choose from a variety of steroids including methylprednisolone acetate, triamcinalone, and betamethasone. Oftentimes, we may also inject a sodium hyaluronate (HA) product, which there are many, and they have a variety of viscosities. Other products can include antibiotics (amikacin), polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGs), Interleukin-1 receptor antagonists (IRAP), and autologous stem cells.
Joint injections may not always resolve a horses’ lameness because the lameness that was localized to a joint may be originating from the soft tissues surrounding the joint. Oftentimes, a joint will be occasionally injected based off of a lameness examination to achieve long term comfort. Occasionally, a joint may “flare” as a secondary result from the injection itself and will be treated with rest and pain medication. Joint injections come with risk but can also have great reward for your horse. We will work with you and your horse to ensure that the use of joint injections is the proper tool in an integrative approach to well being.